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November 20, 2019

Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black


Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.


Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

I’ve been a big fan of Holly Black ever since I first started reading YA back when I was a little pre-teen. Over the years, I’ve been torn apart by Black’s takes on vampires, faeries, demons, and all the other beasties that can be found in The Poison Eaters anthology. The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve been a fan of Holly Black’s for a long time, and getting to read The Cruel Prince just made me fall in love with her all over again.

            I’ll admit that going into the novel I had my doubts, but after finishing the opening chapter (that had my jaw hitting the floor and my fingers fumbling to flip pages while I desperately tries to read, read, read!) I knew that I was about to start something good. A novel about a human girl adopted into the realm of faerie by the same faerie that killed her family? Sign me right up, please and thanks.

            The novel does start somewhat slowly as we are introduced to the realm of faerie, the way the monarchy is set-up, and who the characters all are. Our protagonist, Jude, is a badass and one of the few characters whose perspective I actually enjoyed reading from. Everything about Jude is complex, flawed, and completely and utterly human. When it came to her, I was obsessed. Everything she did, no matter how questionable, left my heart racing and left me eager to read on. 

            And, of course, we have a novel filled with faeries that are just about as cruel as our Cruel Prince, Cardan. The ways that the faeries in The Cruel Prince were written was so refreshing, and brought me back to my first time reading Tithe with pleasant nostalgia. Everything about the faerie realm was dangerous and promising, lush and wicked, I couldn’t get enough of it. The fact that the novel’s entire plot felt like a crazy episode of Game of Thrones only added to my excitement.

            Readers will be equally obsessed with Prince Cardan who, if I’m honest, was the kind of hot bad guy that I wish every YA novel could have. There are so many questions revolving around him. Why is he so cruel? What is his endgame? And of course, will Jude be able to best him and uncover his secrets?

            Everything about The Cruel Prince drew me in. Like the title suggests, readers come for the Cruel Prince but stay for the kick-ass leading lady. I would recommend The Cruel Prince to any readers looking for a page-turner (I literally finished within 24 hours), to any readers who are long-time fans of Black’s work, and to any readers who are looking for a novel that has the perfect mix of action, thrills, plot-twists, and romance.


Holly Black is the bestselling author of contemporary fantasy novels, including Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale and the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick series. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and the Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award. Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

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